You spend a significant amount of time communicating to customers and potential customers through marketing and sales campaigns, support contacts, and your company blog. You also take advantage of customer engagement opportunities through social media sites, as few other venues give you the one-on-one ability to start a conversation with your customers. While you can use whatever voice you want for all communication, establishing a unified brand voice for your communication helps you build consistency across your brand. It also helps you establish employee guidelines explaining acceptable language for communication, common phrases or terms you use for your company, and other details important for correctly conveying your company's message. On social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, the ease of back and forth communication between yourself and your customers requires some shifting for your brand's voice, due to the more informal setting.
Creating Voice Guidelines
The first step in adapting your brand's voice for social media is establishing your voice guidelines.
Use this checklist to create overall voice guidelines for your organization:
- Who is your audience?
- What are the approved names for your company? Be specific with capitalization, especially if your brand name uses a lowercase as the first letter (i.e. eBay).
- What sets your company apart from others in the industry?
- What is your typical communication tone: funny, formal, informal, informative, educational, casual, etc?
- What are common phrases you use in messaging? These phrases can include taglines, common industry terms and keywords, and slang used by your demographic.
- Do you prefer specific grammar styles, such as AP or Chicago?
Once you've created a document covering basic voice guidelines, it's time to understand how they relate to your brand's interaction with customers on popular social networks, the types of content these networks respond best to, and how to adapt your voice for your customers.
Facebook is the biggest social network, and it's also the one that accommodates a wide range of content. Content length ranges from 50 to 200 words, with videos and pictures drawing more attention to your text posts. You don't want to overwhelm your Facebook fans with long-form content, but you can provide substantial information to begin a conversation. Facebook supports threaded conversations, making it easier for everyone to follow along with comments compared to a platform like Twitter. You adopt a slightly more informal speech pattern on Facebook, but you don't have to deviate strongly from your typical speaking patterns. You want to interject personality with some demographic and brand appropriate slang and humor to help get the conversations going.
Twitter is challenging for many brands due to the 140 character limit per message. Your social media managers learn how to distill messages into easily digestible tidbits. Effectively communicating on Twitter requires an understanding that you're going to use abbreviations and Internet slang to get your message across in such a short space. Additionally, knowing how to sustain a conversation through appropriate hashtags is invaluable. Twitter is the most informal social network you may encounter, so you most likely need to adjust your guidelines the greatest for this network. It's particularly important to mandate which abbreviations and shortened words are appropriate and which do not suit the brand.
LinkedIn is primarily used for B2B communication, so you won't deviate far from your established brand voice on this network. You do want to keep your tone as warm as possible to encourage engagement and show your brand's personality. Longer form content is welcomed on this network, although visual content still does a great job at attracting interest.
Pinterest is a visual-first social media site, and your messaging should reflect that. Infographics and DIY projects get significant attention, especially if you have a home or lifestyle brand. Product photos themselves are also welcomed, especially if you can create pinboards that speak to how your products are used in day to day life. Pinterest focuses on visual storytelling, although the picture and board descriptions are important places to further explain the story. A warm and personable tone gets the conversation and pins going on Pinterest, with mostly informal speech.
Niche Industry Social Media Sites
Niche social media sites pop up on a regular basis, such as Steepster for tea community or the niche sub-reddit communities on Reddit. While there's no one size fits all approach to handling these specialty communities, going for a welcoming and relatable tone is an important first step. It's also essential to truly understand standard terminology used by customers within your niche. If you go into a specialty social media site filled with enthusiasts and you don't know the first thing about the phrases they use, it damages the trust they may have in your company knowing what the niche is all about.
Social media sites may seem intimidating when it comes to keeping your brand's voice consistent across multiple platforms. Understanding the typical tone and content used on these sites helps you adapt your social media guidelines and effectively start conversations with your customers.
If you are needing help with this or other digital marketing activities, use your voice to call our voice and let's connect!